The Drama Club: The ‘Dawson’s Initiative

by | February 2, 2010 at 8:47 AM | The Drama Club

James Van Der Beek in Mercy (NBC)

James Van Der Beek in Mercy (NBC)

Lost In A Sea of Estrogen

‘Lost,’ the show so important that President Obama schedules his speeches around it, returns Tuesday.  This is the show’s final season.  The promos promise that all of the series’ questions will finally be answered.  That is such a tall order that it’s a good thing no money back guarantees are involved.  Will they explain why none of the characters had the logical conversations that would have revealed their connections back in season one?   Nonetheless, the promise of a satisfying final season should give a lot of people who gave up back in season three a reason to tune in.  I am extremely curious about why everyone ended up on that island.  However, ABC thinks us lady viewers are tuning in for another reason.  According to the promos that are running on all of its female skewing shows, the show will finally resolve the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle.   Okay.  But according to the promo, it is one of the greatest love triangles in television history.

What? Really? Approximate number of people I know who are eagerly anticipating the Lost premiere: 4,815,162,342. Number who are tuning in to find out who ends up with Kate: 0.  The triangle was a minor storyline.  Most episodes did not even touch on it.  This is not Felicity/Ben/Noel or Dawson/Joey/Pacey or Addison/Derek/Meredith or Brenda/Dylan/Kelly.  Those triangles were the focus of their respective shows.  Nobody is walking around in Team Sawyer t-shirts.  What’s next?  A promo focusing on the shoes of Lost? It is mildly insulting that this is why ABC thinks women watch the show.  Us women-folk are tuning in for Ben Linus, time travel, and the promise of a solution to a complex puzzle, too.  We are more than just shippers.  We are capable of comprehending and appreciating what has become a sci-fi show.

Watch the first two minutes of Tuesday’s episode below:

Up The Creek

Once upon a time, back in the 1990s, there was a television show about teenagers that had a far bigger impact then its ratings would suggest.   After the show ended, most of the cast went on to stardom.  I’m not talking about ‘Freaks and Geeks.’  I’m talking about ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ the oh -so-late 90s WB drama about a teen movie geek and his friends. Unlike ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ the show was not taken seriously by critics.  It was known primarily for its overly articulate teens whose sentences were peppered liberally with SAT words.  Though today it seems almost as quaint as ‘Gidget,’ the show was considered the edgy ‘Gossip Girl’ of its day because *gasp* the protagonist occasionally had platonic sleepovers with his female best friend, there was a gay character who rarely kissed anyone on camera, and bad boy Pacey slept with his teacher.  When Dan did that on ‘Gossip Girl’ last season, the audience yawned.   Critics gave little respect to the cast at the time, though many fans noted that Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson were damn good actors.

Fast forward to the present, and ‘Dawson’s Creek’ alumni have taken over television.  Joshua Jackson stars on ‘Fringe.’  Kerr Smith is now the stepfather figure to a teenager on the CW’s ‘Life Unexpected.’   Series creator Kevin Williamson is behind the CW’s breakout new hit ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ proving he knows how to write millennial teens as well as he did Generation Y, while still appealing to the twenty and thirty somethings who watched ‘Dawson’s.  Greg Berlanti, another former ‘Dawson’s writer, has cut a wide swath across primetime.  He created the much missed ‘Everwood,’ is credited for transforming ‘Brothers & Sisters’ from a mediocre pilot to a hit television series and executive produced ‘Dirty Sexy Money‘ and ‘Eli Stone.’  Of course, Michelle Williams has gone on to become an Oscar nominated actress while Katie Holmes has opted for a weird marriage to an even weirder movie star.

This brings us to Dawson himself, James Van Der Beek.  Dawson was, in retrospect, one of television’s all time lamest lead characters.  He was self-absorbed, whiny, and to wade in the shallow end, the least attractive guy on the show.  On the plus side, he inspired the creation of the website Dawson’s Desktop which ultimately became Television Without Pity. Van Der Beek bore the brunt of the blame for his unappealing character.   His decision to adopt a thoroughly unconvincing Texas accent in the film ‘Varsity Blues‘ did not help his reputation as an actor.  But his post-Dawwon’s appearances on the small screen have been surprisingly good.  He was scary as the creepy unsub who kidnapped Spencer on ‘Criminal Minds’ and acquitted himself well as a guest star on ‘Ugly Betty.’  This week he joins the cast of NBC’s ‘Mercy,’ an unheralded medical drama about nurses that has survived mainly because NBC has no other way of filling out its primetime schedule.  The 32-year-old Van Der Beek will be playing Dr. Liam West, the suspiciously young ICU Chief who is described as a womanizer with a dark secret.   I hope his secret is that he has bumped off the real 40-something Liam West.  How is it possible that a guy who would have only finished his residency a couple years ago is already a department head?  Suddenly ‘Grey’s Anatomy‘ looks medically accurate.   Will Van Der Beek bring the luck of the Creek with him?  Will the retooled ‘Mercy’ become a hit?  NBC sure hopes so, as does the Beek.  In this video, he discusses his new character.